And so it’s Lenny. Let’s put some easy to apply context onto the decision, Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez were not about to pitch up in the east end of Glasgow, those names were placed in the pubic domain by those in the betting markets. Jose is pondering his next move, with a number of oil wells pumping away at his disposal. Should Rafa leave Newcastle, he has a mind-blowing deal on the table from a Chinese club, and that’s before he is on the market. There was not a candidate of Brendan’s calibre.
Salzburg manager, Marco Rose, ticked lots of boxes. Salzburg were scintillating against Celtic this season, but the whole of Europe knows about Rose, who will join ‘some German team’ in the summer.
We could have had David Wagner, two great seasons with Huddersfield before it all collapsed, but never having managed a club bigger than Huddersfield (or any other club), the risks were evident. How would he cope with the scrutiny and pressure to win every game, when he has not actually won anything? Before he joined Schalke, he was a possibility, but not a clear favourite.
We could have thrown the field open and gone for a Ronny Delia-type candidate, someone who has outperformed – and won things, in another European league. There is a time for this kind of appointment, but is that now?
This month saw new names on the market, like Chris Hughton. Hughton did for Brighton what Wagner did at Huddersfield. He was a worthy candidate but there were red flags among the green. Hughton spent £77m at Brighton this season (selling £12m of talent), but it was careless. £17m went to Alkmaar for Alireza Jahanbakhsh, but the player was given 90 minutes only four times. This is the kind of shabby recruitment that values Oliver Burke at £15m. It is as wrong for Celtic as it was for Brighton.
The major consideration, and why Neil got the job, is that Celtic have a major rebuilding exercise to undertake. They need to replace Lustig (whether he remains as backup or not), Boyata, Benkovic and Mousse Dembele. Despite the mainstays of central mid being under contract, this area of the team needs at least one significant recruit.
Not only do they need to spend money this summer, but they need a high success rate from the new arrivals. Signing the likes of Burke, Toljan and the legendary Compper would jeopardise the most precious of properties in football – a place in history.
Whatever you think of Brendan Rodgers, Celtic know very well the commercial impact a manager of his calibre brought to the club, but that level was not open this time. We could have repeated the Ronny Deila experiment from Europe, or picked up someone recently out of a job in England, but not at this time.
Everyone at Celtic knows that for the next 100 years, fans will look back at this period and ask one of two questions: What was it like to live through +10-in-a-row? Or, How did they not get 10-in-a-row?
We need to spend, what for Celtic, is a lot of money, perhaps more than ever. It needs to be spent well, with a lot more hits than misses. If we break our transfer record again this season, the player(s) needs to an outstanding success.
Whatever Neil’s strengths and flaws, one comment from Peter Lawwell immediately after the Cup Final gave insight into what the club seen in the manager, “he has a great eye for a player”. This appointment was not about stepping up when required, being a real Celtic man, or winning the league and Scottish Cup. This was about spending a lot of money to make sure we get nine and then 10-in-a-row.
Celtic believe Neil Lennon can spend your money effectively. That is why he is here. Buckle up.